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The Second Jungle Book
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Polska wersja językowa w tłumaczeniu Teodora Mianowskiego
Angielska wersja językowa zgodna z wydaniem z roku 1895
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The Second Jungle Book (1895)
by Rudyard Kipling
How Fear Came
The stream is shrunk--the pool is dry,
And we be comrades, thou and I;
With fevered jowl and dusty flank
Each jostling each along the bank;
And by one drouthy fear made still,
Forgoing thought of quest or kill.
Now neath his dam the fawn may see,
The lean Pack-wolf as cowed as he,
And the tall buck, unflinching, note
The fangs that tore his father s throat.
The pools are shrunk--the streams are dry,
And we be playmates, thou and I,
Till yonder cloud--Good Hunting!--loose
The rain that breaks our Water Truce.
The Law of the Jungle--which is by far the oldest law in the world--has arranged for almost every kind
of accident that may befall the Jungle People, till now its code is as perfect as time and custom can make
it. You will remember that Mowgli spent a great part of his life in the Seeonee Wolf-Pack, learning the
Law from Baloo, the Brown Bear; and it was Baloo who told him, when the boy grew impatient at the
constant orders, that the Law was like the Giant Creeper, because it dropped across every one’s back
and no one could escape. “When thou hast lived as long as I have, Little Brother, thou wilt see how all
the Jungle obeys at least one Law. And that will be no pleasant sight,” said Baloo.
This talk went in at one ear and out at the other, for a boy who spends his life eating and sleeping does
not worry about anything till it actually stares him in the face. But, one year, Baloo’s words came true,
and Mowgli saw all the Jungle working under the Law.
It began when the winter Rains failed almost entirely, and Ikki, the Porcupine, meeting Mowgli in a
bamboo-thicket, told him that the wild yams were drying up. Now everybody knows that Ikki is
ridiculously fastidious in his choice of food, and will eat nothing but the very best and ripest. So Mowgli
laughed and said, “What is that to me?”
“Not much now,” said Ikki, rattling his quills in a stiff, uncomfortable way, “but later we shall see. Is
there any more diving into the deep rock-pool below the Bee-Rocks, Little Brother?”
“No. The foolish water is going all away, and I do not wish to break my head,” said Mowgii, who, in
those days, was quite sure that he knew as much as any five of the Jungle People put together.
“That is thy loss. A small crack might let in some wisdom.” Ikki ducked quickly to prevent Mowgli
from pulling his nose-bristles, and Mowgli told Baloo what Ikki had said. Baloo looked very grave, and
mumbled half to himself: “If I were alone I would change my hunting-grounds now, before the others
began to think. And yet--hunting among strangers ends in fighting; and they might hurt the Man-cub.
We must wait and see how the mohwa blooms.”
That spring the mohwa tree, that Baloo was so fond of, never flowered. The greeny, cream-coloured,
waxy blossoms were heat-killed before they were born, and only a few bad-smelling petals came down
when he stood on his hind legs and shook the tree. Then, inch by inch, the untempered heat crept into
the heart of the Jungle, turning it yellow, brown, and at last black. The green growths in the sides of the
ravines burned up to broken wires and curled films of dead stuff; the hidden pools sank down and caked
over, keeping the last least footmark on their edges as if it had been cast in iron; the juicy-stemmed
creepers fell away from the trees they clung to and died at their feet; the bamboos withered, clanking
when the hot winds blew, and the moss peeled off the rocks deep in the Jungle, till they were as bare
and as hot as the quivering blue boulders in the bed of the stream.
The birds and the monkey-people went north early in the year, for they knew what was coming; and the
deer and the wild pig broke far away to the perished fields of the villages, dying sometimes before the
eyes of men too weak to kill them. Chil, the Kite, stayed and grew fat, for there was a great deal of
carrion, and evening after evening he brought the news to the beasts, too weak to force their way to fresh
hunting-grounds, that the sun was killing the Jungle for three days“ flight in every direction.
Mowgli, who had never known what real hunger meant, fell back on stale honey, three years old, scraped
out of deserted rock-hives--honey black as a sloe, and dusty with dried sugar. He hunted, too, for deep-
boring grubs under the bark of the trees, and robbed the wasps of their new broods. All the game in the
jungle was no more than skin and bone, and Bagheera could kill thrice in a night, and hardly get a full
meal. But the want of water was the worst, for though the Jungle People drink seldom they must drink
And the heat went on and on, and sucked up all the moisture, till at last the main channel of the
Waingunga was the only stream that carried a trickle of water between its dead banks; and when Hathi,
the wild elephant, who lives for a hundred years and more, saw a long, lean blue ridge of rock show dry
in the very centre of the stream, he knew that he was looking at the Peace Rock, and then and there he
lifted up his trunk and proclaimed the Water Truce, as his father before him had proclaimed it fifty years
ago. The deer, wild pig, and buffalo took up the cry hoarsely; and Chil, the Kite, flew in great circles far
and wide, whistling and shrieking the warning.
By the Law of the Jungle it is death to kill at the drinking-places when once the Water Truce has been
declared. The reason of this is that drinking comes before eating. Every one in the Jungle can scramble
along somehow when only game is scarce; but water is water, and when there is but one source of
supply, all hunting stops while the Jungle People go there for their needs. In good seasons, when water
was plentiful, those who came down to drink at the Waingunga--or anywhere else, for that matter--did
so at the risk of their lives, and that risk made no small part of the fascination of the night’s doings. To
move down so cunningly that never a leaf stirred; to wade knee-deep in the roaring shallows that drown
all noise from behind; to drink, looking backward over one shoulder, every muscle ready for the first
desperate bound of keen terror; to roll on the sandy margin, and return, wet-muzzled and well plumped
out, to the admiring herd, was a thing that all tall-antlered young bucks took a delight in, precisely
because they knew that at any moment Bagheera or Shere Khan might leap upon them and bear them
down. But now all that life-and-death fun was ended, and the Jungle People came up, starved and weary,
to the shrunken river--tiger, bear, deer, buffalo, and pig, all together--drank the fouled waters, and hung
above them, too exhausted to move off.
The deer and the pig had tramped all day in search of something better than dried bark and withered
leaves. The buffaloes had found no wallows to be cool in, and no green crops to steal. The snakes had
left the Jungle and come down to the river in the hope of finding a stray frog. They curled round wet
stones, and never offered to strike when the nose of a rooting pig dislodged them. The river-turtles had
long ago been killed by Bagheera, cleverest of hunters, and the fish had buried themselves deep in the
dry mud. Only the Peace Rock lay across the shallows like a long snake, and the little tired ripples hissed
as they dried on its hot side.
It was here that Mowgli came nightly for the cool and the companionship. The most hungry of his
enemies would hardly have cared for the boy then. His naked hide made him seem more lean and
wretched than any of his fellows. His hair was bleached to tow colour by the sun; his ribs stood out like
the ribs of a basket, and the lumps on his knees and elbows, where he was used to track on all fours,
gave his shrunken limbs the look of knotted grass-stems. But his eye, under his matted forelock, was
cool and quiet, for Bagheera was his adviser in this time of trouble, and told him to go quietly, hunt
slowly, and never, on any account, to lose his temper.
“It is an evil time,” said the Black Panther, one furnace-hot evening, “but it will go if we can live till the
end. Is thy stomach full, Man-cub?”
“There is stuff in my stomach, but I get no good of it. Think you, Bagheera, the Rains have forgotten us
and will never come again?”
“Not I! We shall see the mohwa in blossom yet, and the little fawns all fat with new grass. Come down
to the Peace Rock and hear the news. On my back, Little Brother.”
“This is no time to carry weight. I can still stand alone, but--indeed we be no fatted bullocks, we two.”
Bagheera looked along his ragged, dusty flank and whispered. “Last night I killed a bullock under the
yoke. So low was I brought that I think I should not have dared to spring if he had been loose. Wou!”
Mowgli laughed. “Yes, we be great hunters now,” said he. “I am very bold--to eat grubs,” and the two
came down together through the crackling undergrowth to the river-bank and the lace-work of shoals
that ran out from it in every direction.
“The water cannot live long,” said Baloo, joining them. “Look across. Yonder are trails like the roads
On the level plain of the farther bank the stiff jungle-grass had died standing, and, dying, had mummied.
The beaten tracks of the deer and the pig, all heading toward the river, had striped that colourless plain
with dusty gullies driven through the ten-foot grass, and, early as it was, each long avenue was full of
first-comers hastening to the water. You could hear the does and fawns coughing in the snuff-like dust.
Upstream, at the bend of the sluggish pool round the Peace Rock, and Warden of the Water Truce, stood
Hathi, the wild elephant, with his sons, gaunt and grey in the moonlight, rocking to and fro--always
rocking. Below him a little were the vanguard of the deer; below these, again, the pig and the wild
buffalo; and on the opposite bank, where the tall trees came down to the water’s edge, was the place set
apart for the Eaters of Flesh--the tiger, the wolves, the panther, the bear, and the others.
“We are under one Law, indeed,” said Bagheera, wading into the water and looking across at the lines
of clicking horns and starting eyes where the deer and the pig pushed each other to and fro. “Good
hunting, all you of my blood,” he added, lying own at full length, one flank thrust out of the shallows;
and then, between his teeth, “But for that which is the Law it would be very good hunting.”
The quick-spread ears of the deer caught the last sentence, and a frightened whisper ran along the ranks.
“The Truce! Remember the Truce!”
“Peace there, peace!” gurgled Hathi, the wild elephant. “The Truce holds, Bagheera. This is no time to
talk of hunting.”
“Who should know better than I?” Bagheera answered, rolling his yellow eyes up-stream. “I am an eater
of turtles--a fisher of frogs. Ngaayah! Would I could get good from chewing branches!”
“We wish so, very greatly,” bleated a young fawn, who had only been born that spring, and did not at
all like it. Wretched as the Jungle People were, even Hathi could not help chuckling; while Mowgli,
lying on his elbows in the warm water, laughed aloud, and beat up the scum with his feet.
“Well spoken, little bud-horn,” Bagheera purred. “When the Truce ends that shall be remembered in thy
favour,” and he looked keenly through the darkness to make sure of recognising the fawn again.
Gradually the talking spread up and down the drinking-places. One could hear the scuffling, snorting
pig asking for more room; the buffaloes grunting among themselves as they lurched out across the sand-
bars, and the deer telling pitiful stories of their long foot-sore wanderings in quest of food. Now and
again they asked some question of the Eaters of Flesh across the river, but all the news was bad, and the
roaring hot wind of the Jungle came and went between the rocks and the rattling branches, and scattered
twigs, and dust on the water.
“The men-folk, too, they die beside their ploughs,” said a young sambhur. “I passed three between sunset
and night. They lay still, and their Bullocks with them. We also shall lie still in a little.”
“The river has fallen since last night,” said Baloo. “O Hathi, hast thou ever seen the like of this drought?”
“It will pass, it will pass,” said Hathi, squirting water along his back and sides.
“We have one here that cannot endure long,” said Baloo; and he looked toward the boy he loved.
“I?” said Mowgli indignantly, sitting up in the water. “I have no long fur to cover my bones, but--but if
thy hide were taken off, Baloo--“
Hathi shook all over at the idea, and Baloo said severely:
“Man-cub, that is not seemly to tell a Teacher of the Law. Never have I been seen without my hide.”
“Nay, I meant no harm, Baloo; but only that thou art, as it were, like the cocoa-nut in the husk, and I am
the same cocoa-nut all naked. Now that brown husk of thine--” Mowgli was sitting cross-legged, and
explaining things with his forefinger in his usual way, when Bagheera put out a paddy paw and pulled
him over backward into the water.
“Worse and worse,” said the Black Panther, as the boy rose spluttering. “First Baloo is to be skinned,
and now he is a cocoa-nut. Be careful that he does not do what the ripe cocoa-nuts do.”
“And what is that?” said Mowgli, off his guard for the minute, though that is one of the oldest catches
in the Jungle.
“Break thy head,” said Bagheera quietly, pulling him under again.
“It is not good to make a jest of thy teacher,” said the bear, when Mowgli had been ducked for the third
“Not good! What would ye have? That naked thing running to and fro makes a monkey-jest of those
who have once been good hunters, and pulls the best of us by the whiskers for sport.” This was Shere
Khan, the Lame Tiger, limping down to the water. He waited a little to enjoy the sensation he made
among the deer on the opposite to lap, growling: “The jungle has become a whelping-ground for naked
cubs now. Look at me, Man-cub!”
Mowgli looked--stared, rather--as insolently as he knew how, and in a minute Shere Khan turned away
uneasily. “Man-cub this, and Man-cub that,” he rumbled, going on with his drink, “the cub is neither
man nor cub, or he would have been afraid. Next season I shall have to beg his leave for a drink. Augrh!”
“That may come, too,” said Bagheera, looking him steadily between the eyes. “That may come, too--
Faugh, Shere Khan!--what new shame hast thou brought here?”
The Lame Tiger had dipped his chin and jowl in the water, and dark, oily streaks were floating from it
“Man!” said Shere Khan coolly, “I killed an hour since.” He went on purring and growling to himself.
The line of beasts shook and wavered to and fro, and a whisper went up that grew to a cry. “Man! Man!
He has killed Man!” Then all looked towards Hathi, the wild elephant, but he seemed not to hear. Hathi
never does anything till the time comes, and that is one of the reasons why he lives so long.
“At such a season as this to kill Man! Was no other game afoot?” said Bagheera scornfully, drawing
himself out of the tainted water, and shaking each paw, cat-fashion, as he did so.
“I killed for choice--not for food.” The horrified whisper began again, and Hathi’s watchful little white
eye cocked itself in Shere Khan’s direction. “For choice,” Shere Khan drawled. “Now come I to drink
and make me clean again. Is there any to forbid?”
Bagheera’s back began to curve like a bamboo in a high wind, but Hathi lifted up his trunk and spoke
“Thy kill was from choice?” he asked; and when Hathi asks a question it is best to answer.
“Even so. It was my right and my Night. Thou knowest, O Hathi.” Shere Khan spoke almost courteously.
“Yes, I know,” Hathi answered; and, after a little silence, “Hast thou drunk thy fill?”
“For tonight, yes.”
“Go, then. The river is to drink, and not to defile. None but the Lame Tiger would so have boasted of
his right at this season when--when we suffer together--Man and Jungle People alike.” Clean or unclean,
get to thy lair, Shere Khan!”
The last words rang out like silver trumpets, and Hathi’s three sons rolled forward half a pace, though
there was no need. Shere Khan slunk away, not daring to growl, for he knew--what every one else
knows--that when the last comes to the last, Hathi is the Master of the Jungle.
“What is this right Shere Khan speaks of?” Mowgli whispered in Bagheera’s ear. “To kill Man is always,
shameful. The Law says so. And yet Hathi says--”
“Ask him. I do not know, Little Brother. Right or no right, if Hathi had not spoken I would have taught
that lame butcher his lesson. To come to the Peace Rock fresh from a kill of Man--and to boast of it--is
a jackal’s trick. Besides, he tainted the good water.”
Mowgli waited for a minute to pick up his courage, because no one cared to address Hathi directly, and
then he cried: “What is Shere Khan’s right, O Hathi?” Both banks echoed his words, for all the People
of the Jungle are intensely curious, and they had just seen something that none except Baloo, who looked
very thoughtful, seemed to understand.
“It is an old tale,” said Hathi; “a tale older than the Jungle. Keep silence along the banks and I will tell
There was a minute or two of pushing a shouldering among the pigs and the buffalo, and then the leaders
of the herds grunted, one after another, “We wait,” and Hathi strode forward, till he was nearly knee-
deep in the pool by the Peace Rock. Lean and wrinkled and yellow-tusked though he was, he looked
what the Jungle knew him to be--their master.
“Ye know, children,” he began, “that of all things ye most fear Man”; and there was a mutter of
“This tale touches thee, Little Brother,” said Bagheera to Mowgli.
“I? I am of the Pack--a hunter of the Free People,” Mowgli answered. “What have I to do with Man?”
“And ye do not know why ye fear Man?” Hathi went on. “This is the reason. In the beginning of the
Jungle, and none know when that was, we of the Jungle walked together, having no fear of one another.
In those days there was no drought, and leaves and flowers and fruit grew on the same tree, and we ate
nothing at all except leaves and flowers and grass and fruit and bark.”
“I am glad I was not born in those days,” said Bagheera. “Bark is only good to sharpen claws.”
“And the Lord of the Jungle was Tha, the First of the Elephants. He drew the Jungle out of deep waters
with his trunk; and where he made furrows in the ground with his tusks, there the rivers ran; and where
he struck with his foot, there rose ponds of good water; and when he blew through his trunk-- thus--the
trees fell. That was the manner in which the Jungle was made by Tha; and so the tale was told to me.”
“It has not lost fat in the telling,” Bagheera whispered, and Mowgli laughed behind his hand.
“In those days there was no corn or melons or pepper or sugar-cane, nor were there any little huts such
as ye have all seen; and the Jungle People knew nothing of Man, but lived in the Jungle together, making
one people. But presently they began to dispute over their food, though there was grazing enough for
all. They were lazy. Each wished to eat where he lay, as sometimes we can do now when the spring
rains are good. Tha, the First of the Elephants, was busy making new jungles and leading the rivers in
their beds. He could not walk in all places; therefore he made the First of the Tigers the master and the
judge of the Jungle, to whom the Jungle People should bring their disputes. In those days the First of the
Tigers ate fruit and grass with the others. He was as large as I am, and he was very beautiful, in colour
all over like the blossom of the yellow creeper. There was never stripe nor bar upon his hide in those
good days when this the Jungle was new. All the Jungle People came before him without fear, and his
word was the Law of all the Jungle. We were then, remember ye, one people.
“Yet upon a night there was a dispute between two bucks--a grazing-quarrel such as ye now settle with
the horns and the fore-feet--and it is said that as the two spoke together before the First of the First of
the Tigers lying among the flowers, a buck pushed him with his horns, and the First of the Tigers forgot
that he was the master and judge of the Jungle, and, leaping upon that buck, broke his neck.
“Till that night never one of us had died, and the First of the Tigers, seeing what he had done, and being
made foolish by the scent of the blood, ran away into the marshes of the North, and we of the Jungle,
left without a judge, fell to fighting among ourselves; and Tha heard the noise of it and came back. Then
some of us said this and some of us said that, but he saw the dead buck among the flowers, and asked
who had killed, and we of the Jungle would not tell because the smell of the blood made us foolish. We
ran to and fro in circles, capering and crying out and shaking our heads. Then Tha gave an order to the
trees that hang low, and to the trailing creepers of the Jungle, that they should mark the killer of the buck
so that he should know him again, and he said, ‘Who will now be master of the Jungle People?’ Then
up leaped the Grey Ape who lives in the branches, and said, ‘I will now be master of the Jungle.’
At this Tha laughed, and said, ‘So be it,’ and went away very angry.
“Children, ye know the Grey Ape. He was then as he is now. At the first he made a wise face for himself,
but in a little while he began to scratch and to leap up and down, and when Tha came back he found the
Grey Ape hanging, head down, from a bough, mocking those who stood below; and they mocked him
again. And so there was no Law in the Jungle--only foolish talk and senseless words.
“Then Tha called us all together and said: ‘The first of your masters has brought Death into the Jungle,
and the second Shame. Now it is time there was a Law, and a Law that ye must not break. Now ye shall
know Fear, and when ye have found him ye shall know that he is your master, and the rest shall follow.’
Then we of the jungle said, ‘What is Fear?’ And Tha said, ‘Seek till ye find.’ So we went up and down
the Jungle seeking for Fear, and presently the buffaloes--”
“Ugh!” said Mysa, the leader of the buffaloes, from their sand-bank.
“Yes, Mysa, it was the buffaloes. They came back with the news that in a cave in the Jungle sat Fear,
and that he had no hair, and went upon his hind legs. Then we of the Jungle followed the herd till we
came to that cave, and Fear stood at the mouth of it, and he was, as the buffaloes had said, hairless, and
he walked upon his hinder legs. When he saw us he cried out, and his voice filled us with the fear that
we have now of that voice when we hear it, and we ran away, tramping upon and tearing each other
because we were afraid. That night, so it was told to me, we of the Jungle did not lie down together as
used to be our custom, but each tribe drew off by itself--the pig with the pig, the deer with the deer; horn
to horn, hoof to hoof--like keeping to like, and so lay shaking in the Jungle.
“Only the First of the Tigers was not with us, for he was still hidden in the marshes of the North, and
when word was brought to him of the Thing we had seen in the cave, he said. ‘I will go to this Thing
and break his neck.’ So he ran all the night till he came to the cave; but the trees and the creepers on his
path, remembering the order that Tha had given, let down their branches and marked him as he ran,
drawing their fingers across his back, his flank, his forehead, and his jowl. Wherever they touched him
there was a mark and a stripe upon his yellow hide. And those stripes do his chldren wear to this day!
When he came to the cave, Fear, the Hairless One, put out his hand and called him ‘The Striped One
that comes by night,’ and the First of the Tigers was afraid of the Hairless One, and ran back to the
Mowgli chuckled quietly here, his chin in the water.
“So loud did he howl that Tha heard him and said, ‘What is the sorrow?’ And the First of the Tigers,
lifting up his muzzle to the new-made sky, which is now so old, said: ‘Give me back my power, O Tha.
I am made ashamed before all the Jungle, and I have run away from a Hairless One, and he has called
me a shameful name.’ ‘And why?’ said Tha. ‘Because I am smeared with the mud of the marshes,’ said
the First of the Tigers. ‘Swim, then, and roll on the wet grass, and if it be mud it will wash away,’ said
Tha; and the First of the Tigers swam, and rolled and rolled upon the grass, till the Jungle ran round and
round before his eyes, but not one little bar upon all his hide was changed, and Tha, watching him,
laughed. Then the First of the Tigers said: ‘What have I done that this comes to me?’ Tha said, ‘Thou
hast killed the buck, and thou hast let Death loose in the Jungle, and with Death has come Fear, so that
the people of the Jungle are afraid one of the other, as thou art afraid of the Hairless One.’ The First of
the Tigers said, ‘They will never fear me, for I knew them since the beginning.’ Tha said, ‘Go and see.’
And the First of the Tigers ran to and fro, calling aloud to the deer and the pig and the sambhur and the
porcupine and all the Jungle Peoples, and they all ran away from him who had been their judge, because
they were afraid.
“Then the First of the Tigers came back, and his pride was broken in him, and, beating his head upon
the ground, he tore up the earth with all his feet and said: ‘Remember that I was once the Master of the
Jungle. Do not forget me, O Tha! Let my children remember that I was once without shame or fear!’
And Tha said: ‘This much I will do, because thou and I together saw the Jungle made. For one night in
each year it shall be as it was before the buck was killed--for thee and for thy children. In that one night,
if ye meet the Hairless One--and his name is Man--ye shall not be afraid of him, but he shall he afraid
of you, as though ye were judges of the Jungle and masters of all things. Show him mercy in that night
of his fear, for thou hast known what Fear is.’
“T hen the First of the Tigers answered, ‘I am content’; but when next he drank he saw the black stripes
upon his flank and his side, and he remembered the name that the Hairless One had given him, and he
was angry. For a year he lived in the marshes waiting till Tha should keep his promise. And upon a night
when the Jackal of the Moon [the Evening Star] stood clear of the Jungle, he felt that his Night was upon
him, and he went to that cave to meet the Hairless One. Then it happened as Tha promised, for the
Hairless One fell down before him and lay along the ground, and the First of the Tigers struck him and
broke his back, for he thought that there was but one such Thing in the Jungle, and that he had killed
Fear. Then, nosing above the kill, he heard Tha coming down from the woods of the North, and presently
the voice of the First of the Elephants, which is the voice that we hear now--”
The thunder was rolling up and down the dry, scarred hills, but it brought no rain--only heat-lightning
that flickered along the ridges--and Hathi went on: “That was the voice he heard, and it said: ‘Is this thy
mercy?’ The First of the Tigers licked his lips and said: ‘What matter? I have killed Fear.’ And Tha said:
‘O blind and foolish! Thou hast untied the feet of Death, and he will follow thy trail till thou diest. Thou
hast taught Man to kill!’
“The First of the Tigers, standing stiffly to his kill, said. ‘He is as the buck was. There is no Fear. Now
I will judge the Jungle Peoples once more.’
“And Tha said: ‘Never again shall the Jungle Peoples come to thee. They shall never cross thy trail, nor
sleep near thee, nor follow after thee, nor browse by thy lair. Only Fear shall follow thee, and with a
blow that thou canst not see he shall bid thee wait his pleasure. He shall make the ground to open under
thy feet, and the creeper to twist about thy neck, and the tree-trunks to grow together about thee higher
than thou canst leap, and at the last he shall take thy hide to wrap his cubs when they are cold. Thou hast
shown him no mercy, and none will he show thee.’
“The First of Tigers was very bold, for his Night was still on him, and he said: ‘The promise of Tha is
the Promise of Tha. He will not take away my Night?’ And Tha said: ‘Thy one night is thine, as I have
said, but there is a price to pay. Thou hast taught Man to kill, and he is no slow learner.’
“The First of the Tigers said: ‘He is here under my foot, and his back is broken. Let the Jungle know I
have killed Fear.’
“Then Tha laughed, and said: ‘Thou hast killed one of many, but thou thyself shalt tell the Jungle--for
thy Night is ended.’
“So the day came; and from the mouth of the cave went out another Hairless One, and he saw the kill in
the path, and the First of the Tigers above it, and he took a pointed stick--“
“They throw a thing that cuts now,” said Ikki, rustling down the bank; for Ikki was considered
uncommonly good eating by the Gonds--they called him Ho-Igoo--and he knew something of the wicked
little Gondee axe that whirls across a clearing like a dragonfly.
“It was a pointed stick, such as they put in the foot of a pit-trap,” said Hathi, “and throwing it, he struck
the First of the Tigers deep in the flank. Thus it happened as Tha said, for the First of the Tigers ran
howling up and down the Jungle till he tore out the stick, and all the Jungle knew that the Hairless One
could strike from far off, and they feared more than before. So it came about that the First of the Tigers
taught the Hairless One to kill--and ye know what harm that has since done to all our peoples--through
the noose, and the pitfall, and the hidden trap, and the flying stick and the stinging fly that comes out of
white smoke [Hathi meant the rifle], and the Red Flower that drives us into the open. Yet for one night
in the year the Hairless One fears the Tiger, as Tha promised, and never has the Tiger given him cause
to be less afraid. Where he finds him, there he kills him, remembering how the First of the Tigers was
made ashamed. For the rest, Fear walks up and down the Jungle by day and by night.”
“Ahi! Aoo!” said the deer, thinking of what it all meant to them.
“And only when there is one great Fear over all, as there is now, can we of the Jungle lay aside our little
fears, and meet together in one place as we do now.”
“For one night only does Man fear the Tiger?” said Mowgli.
“For one night only,” said Hathi.
“But I--but we--but all the Jungle knows that Shere Khan kills Man twice and thrice in a moon.”
“Even so. then he springs from behind and turns his head aside as he strikes, for he is full of fear. If Man
looked at him he would run. But on his one Night he goes openly down to the village. He walks between
the houses and thrusts his head into the doorway, and the men fall on their faces, and there he does his
kill. One kill in that Night.”
“Oh!” said Mowgli to himself, rolling over in the water. “Now I see why it was Shere Khan bade me
look at him! He got no good of it, for he could not hold his eyes steady, and--and I certainly did not fall
down at his feet. But then I am not a man, being of the Free People.”
“Umm!” said Bagheera deep in his furry throat. “Does the Tiger know his Night?”
“Never till the Jackal of the Moon stands clear of the evening mist. Sometimes it falls in the dry summer
and sometimes in the wet rains--this one Night of the Tiger. But for the First of the Tigers, this would
never have been, nor would any of us have known fear.”
The deer grunted sorrowfully and Bagheera’s lips curled in a wicked smile. “Do men know this--tale?”
“None know it except the tigers, and we, the elephants--the children of Tha. Now ye by the pools have
heard it, and I have spoken.”
Hathi dipped his trunk into the water as a sign that he did not wish to talk.
“But--but--but,” said Mowgli, turning to Baloo, “why did not the First of the Tigers continue to eat grass
and leaves and trees? He did but break the buck’s neck. He did not eat. What led him to the hot meat?”
“The trees and the creepers marked him, Little Brother, and made him the striped thing that we see.
Never again would he eat their fruit; but from that day he revenged himself upon the deer, and the others,
the Eaters of Grass,” said Baloo.
“Then thou knowest the tale. Heh? Why have I never heard?”
“Because the Jungle is full of such tales. If I made a beginning there would never be an end to them. Let
go my ear, Little Brother.”
The Law of the Jungle
Just to give you an idea of the immense variety of the Jungle Law, I have translated into verse (Baloo
always recited them in a sort of sing-song) a few of the laws that apply to the wolves. There are, of
course, hundreds and hundreds more, but these will do for specimens of the simpler rulings.
Now this is the Law of the Jungle--as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back--
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip; drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting, and forget not the day is for sleep.
The jackal may follow the Tiger, but, Cub, when thy whiskers are grown,
Remember the Wolf is a hunter--go forth and get food of thine own.
Keep peace with the Lords of the Jungle--the Tiger, the Panther, the Bear;
And trouble not Hathi the Silent, and mock not the Boar in his lair.
When Pack meets with Pack in the Jungle, and neither will go from the trail,
Lie down till the leaders have spoken--it may be fair words shall prevail.
When ye fight with a Wolf of the Pack, ye must fight him alone and afar,
Lest others take part in the quarrel, and the Pack be diminished by war.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, and where he has made him his home,
Not even the Head Wolf may enter, not even the Council may come.
The Lair of the Wolf is his refuge, but where he has digged it too plain,
The Council shall send him a message, and so he shall change it again.
If ye kill before midnight, be silent, and wake not the woods with your bay,
Lest ye frighten the deer from the crops, and the brothers go empty away.
Ye may kill for yourselves, and your mates, and your cubs as they need, and ye can;
But kill not for pleasure of killing, and seven times never kill Man.
If ye plunder his Kill from a weaker, devour not all in thy pride;
Pack-Right is the right of the meanest; so leave him the head and the hide.
The Kill of the Pack is the meat of the Pack. Ye must eat where it lies;
And no one may carry away of that meat to his lair, or he dies.
The Kill of the Wolf is the meat of the Wolf. He may do what he will,
But, till he has given permission, the Pack may not eat of that Kill.
Cub-Right is the right of the Yearling. From all of his Pack he may claim
Full-gorge when the killer has eaten; and none may refuse him the same.
Lair-Right is the right of the Mother. From all of her year she may claim
One haunch of each kill for her litter, and none may deny her the same.
Cave-Right is the right of the Father--to hunt by himself for his own.
He is freed of all calls to the Pack; he is judged by the Council alone.
Because of his age and his cunning, because of his gripe and his paw,
In all that the Law leaveth open, the word of the Head Wolf is Law.
Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they;
But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is--Obey!
The Miracle of Purun Bhagat
The night we felt the earth would move
We stole and plucked him by the hand,
Because we loved him with the love
That knows but cannot understand.
And when the roaring hillside broke,
And all our world fell down in rain,
We saved him, we the Little Folk;
But lo! he does not come again!
Mourn now, we saved him for the sake
Of such poor love as wild ones may.
Mourn ye! Our brother will not wake,
And his own kind drive us away!
Dirge of the Langurs.
There was once a man in India who was Prime Minister of one of the semi-independent native States in
the north-western part of the country. He was a Brahmin, so high-caste that caste ceased to have any
particular meaning for him; and his father had been an important official in the gay-coloured tag-rag and
bobtail of an old-fashioned Hindu Court. But as Purun Dass grew up he felt that the old order of things
was changing, and that if any one wished to get on in the world he must stand well with the English, and
imitate all that the English believed to be good. At the same time a native official must keep his own
master’s favour. This was a difficult game, but the quiet, close-mouthed young Brahmin, helped by a
good English education at a Bombay University, played it coolly, and rose, step by step, to be Prime
Minister of the kingdom. That is to say, he held more real power than his master the Maharajah.
When the old king--who was suspicious of the English, their railways and telegraphs--died, Purun Dass
stood high with his young successor, who had been tutored by an Englishman; and between them, though
he always took care that his master should have the credit, they established schools for little girls, made
roads, and started State dispensaries and shows of agricultural implements, and published a yearly blue-
book on the “Moral and Material Progress of the State,” and the Foreign Office and the Government of
India were delighted. Very few native States take up English progress altogether, for they will not
believe, as Purun Dass showed he did, that what was good for the Englishman must be twice as good
for the Asiatic. The Prime Minister became the honoured friend of Viceroys, and Governors, and
Lieutenant-Governors, and medical missionaries, and common missionaries, and hard-riding English
officers who came to shoot in the State preserves, as well as of whole hosts of tourists who travelled up
and down India in the cold weather, showing how things ought to be managed. In his spare time he
would endow scholarships for the study of medicine and manufactures on strictly English lines, and
write letters to the Pioneer, the greatest Indian daily paper, explaining his master’s aims and objects.
At last he went to England on a visit, and had to pay enormous sums to the priests when he came back;
for even so high-caste a Brahmin as Purun Dass lost caste by crossing the black sea. In London he met
and talked with everyone worth knowing--men whose names go all over the world--and saw a great deal
more than he said. He was given honorary degrees by learned universities, and he made speeches and
talked of Hindu social reform to English ladies in evening dress, till all London cried, “This is the most
fascinating man we have ever met at dinner since cloths were first laid.”
When he returned to India there was a blaze of glory, for the Viceroy himself made a special visit to
confer upon the Maharajah the Grand Cross of the Star of India--all diamonds and ribbons and enamel;
and at the same ceremony, while the cannon boomed, Purun Dass was made a Knight Commander of
the Order of the Indian Empire; so that his name stood Sir Purun Dass, K.C.I.E.
That evening, at dinner in the big Viceregal tent, he stood up with the badge and the collar of the Order
on his breast, and replying to the toast of his master’s health, made a speech few Englishmen could have
Next month, when the city had returned to its sun-baked quiet, he did a thing no Englishman would have
dreamed of doing; for, so far as the world’s affairs went, he died. The jewelled order of his knighthood
went back to the Indian Government, and a new Prime Minister was appointed to the charge of affairs,
and a great game of General Post began in all the subordinate appointments. The priests knew what had
happened, and the people guessed; but India is the one place in the world where a man can do as he
pleases and nobody asks why; and the fact that Dewan Sir Purun Dass, K.C.I.E., had resigned position,
palace, and power, and taken up the begging-bowl and ochre-coloured dress of a Sunnyasi, or holy man,
was considered nothing extraordinary. He had been, as the Old Law recommends, twenty years a youth,
twenty years a fighter--though he had never carried a weapon in his life--and twenty years head of a
household. He had used his wealth and his power for what he knew both to be worth; he had taken
honour when it came his way; he had seen men and cities far and near, and men and cities had stood up
and honoured him. Now he would let those things go, as a man drops the cloak he no longer needs.
Behind him, as he walked through the city gates, an antelope skin and brass-handled crutch under his
arm, and a begging-bowl of polished brown coco-de-mer in his hand, barefoot, alone, with eyes cast on
the ground--behind him they were firing salutes from the bastions in honour of his happy successor.
Purun Dass nodded. All that life was ended; and he bore it no more ill-will or good-will than a man
bears to a colourless dream of the night. He was a Sunnyasi--a houseless, wandering mendicant,
depending on his neighbours for his daily bread; and so long as there is a morsel to divide in India,
neither priest nor beggar starves. He had never in his life tasted meat, and very seldom eaten even fish.
A five-pound note would have covered his personal expenses for food through any one of the many
years in which he had been absolute master of millions of money. Even when he was being lionised in
London he had held before him his dream of peace and quiet--the long, white, dusty Indian road, printed
all over with bare feet, the incessant, slow-moving traffic, and the sharp-smelling wood smoke curling
up under the fig-trees in the twilight, where the wayfarers sit at their evening meal.
When the time came to make that dream true the Prime Minister took the proper steps, and in three days
you might more easily have found a bubble in the trough of the long Atlantic seas, than Purun Dass
among the roving, gathering, separating millions of India.
At night his antelope skin was spread where the darkness overtook him--sometimes in a Sunnyasi
monastery by the roadside; sometimes by a mud-pillar shrine of Kala Pir, where the Jogis, who are
another misty division of holy men, would receive him as they do those who know what castes and
divisions are worth; sometimes on the outskirts of a little Hindu village, where the children would steal
up with the food their parents had prepared; and sometimes on the pitch of the bare grazing-grounds,
where the flame of his stick fire waked the drowsy camels. It was all one to Purun Dass--or Purun
Bhagat, as he called himself now. Earth, people, and food were all one. But unconsciously his feet drew
him away northward and eastward; from the south to Rohtak; from Rohtak to Kurnool; from Kurnool
to ruined Samanah, and then up-stream along the dried bed of the Gugger river that fills only when the
rain falls in the hills, till one day he saw the far line of the great Himalayas.
Then Purun Bhagat smiled, for he remembered that his mother was of Rajput Brahmin birth, from Kulu
way--a Hill-woman, always homesick for the snows--and that the least touch of Hill blood draws a man
in the end back to where he belongs.
“Yonder,” said Purun Bhagat, breasting the lower slopes of the Sewaliks, where the cacti stand up like
seven-branched candlesticks--“yonder I shall sit down and get knowledge,” and the cool wind of the
Himalayas whistled about his ears as he trod the road that led to Simla.
The last time he had come that way it had been in state, with a clattering cavalry escort, to visit the
gentlest and most affable of Viceroys; and the two had talked for an hour together about mutual friends
in London, and what the Indian common folk really thought of things. This time Purun Bhagat paid no
calls, but leaned on the rail of the Mall, watching that glorious view of the Plains spread out forty miles
below, till a native Mohammedan policeman told him he was obstructing traffic; and Purun Bhagat
salaamed reverently to the Law, because he knew the value of it, and was seeking for a Law of his own.
Then he moved on, and slept that night in an empty hut at Chota Simla, which looks like the very last
end of the earth, but it was only the beginning of his journey.
He followed the Himalaya-Tibet road, the little ten-foot track that is blasted out of solid rock, or strutted
out on timbers over gulfs a thousand feet deep; that dips into warm, wet, shut-in valleys, and climbs out
across bare, grassy hill-shoulders where the sun strikes like a burning-glass; or turns through dripping,
dark forests where the tree-ferns dress the trunks from head to heel, and the pheasant calls to his mate.
And he met Tibetan herdsmen with their dogs and flocks of sheep, each sheep with a little bag of borax
on his back, and wandering wood-cutters, and cloaked and blanketed Lamas from Tibet, coming into
India on pilgrimage, and envoys of little solitary Hill-states, posting furiously on ring-streaked and
piebald ponies, or the cavalcade of a Rajah paying a visit; or else for a long, clear day he would see
nothing more than a black bear grunting and rooting below in the valley. When he first started, the roar
of the world he had left still rang in his ears, as the roar of a tunnel rings long after the train has passed
through; but when he had put the Mutteeanee Pass behind him that was all done, and Purun Bhagat was
alone with himself, walking, wondering, and thinking, his eyes on the ground, and his thoughts with the
One evening he crossed the highest pass he had met till then--it had been a two-day’s climb--and came
out on a line of snow-peaks that banded all the horizon--mountains from fifteen to twenty thousand feet
high, looking almost near enough to hit with a stone, though they were fifty or sixty miles away. The
pass was crowned with dense, dark forest--deodar, walnut, wild cherry, wild olive, and wild pear, but
mostly deodar, which is the Himalayan cedar; and under the shadow of the deodars stood a deserted
shrine to Kali--who is Durga, who is Sitala, who is sometimes worshipped against the smallpox.
Purun Dass swept the stone floor clean, smiled at the grinning statue, made himself a little mud fireplace
at the back of the shrine, spread his antelope skin on a bed of fresh pine-needles, tucked his bairagi--his
brass-handled crutch--under his armpit, and sat down to rest.
Immediately below him the hillside fell away, clean and cleared for fifteen hundred feet, where a little
village of stone-walled houses, with roofs of beaten earth, clung to the steep tilt. All round it the tiny
terraced fields lay out like aprons of patchwork on the knees of the mountain, and cows no bigger than
beetles grazed between the smooth stone circles of the threshing-floors. Looking across the valley, the
eye was deceived by the size of things, and could not at first realise that what seemed to be low scrub,
on the opposite mountain-flank, was in truth a forest of hundred-foot pines. Purun Bhagat saw an eagle
swoop across the gigantic hollow, but the great bird dwindled to a dot ere it was half-way over. A few
bands of scattered clouds strung up and down the valley, catching on a shoulder of the hills, or rising up
and dying out when they were level with the head of the pass. And “Here shall I find peace,” said Purun
Now, a Hill-man makes nothing of a few hundred feet up or down, and as soon as the villagers saw the
smoke in the deserted shrine, the village priest climbed up the terraced hillside to welcome the stranger.
When he met Purun Bhagat’s eyes--the eyes of a man used to control thousands--he bowed to the earth,
took the begging-bowl without a word, and returned to the village, saying, “We have at last a holy man.
Never have I seen such a man. He is of the Plains--but pale-coloured--a Brahmin of the Brahmins.” Then
all the housewives of the village said, “Think you he will stay with us?” and each did her best to cook
the most savoury meal for the Bhagat. Hill-food is very simple, but with buckwheat and Indian corn,
and rice and red pepper, and little fish out of the stream in the valley, and honey from the flue-like hives
built in the stone walls, and dried apricots, and turmeric, and wild ginger, and bannocks of flour, a devout
woman can make good things, and it was a full bowl that the priest carried to the Bhagat. Was he going
to stay? asked the priest. Would he need a chela--a disciple--to beg for him? Had he a blanket against
the cold weather? Was the food good?
Purun Bhagat ate, and thanked the giver. It was in his mind to stay. That was sufficient, said the priest.
Let the begging-bowl be placed outside the shrine, in the hollow made by those two twisted roots, and
daily should the Bhagat be fed; for the village felt honoured that such a man--he looked timidly into the
Bhagat’s face--should tarry among them.
That day saw the end of Purun Bhagat’s wanderings. He had come to the place appointed for him--the
silence and the space. After this, time stopped, and he, sitting at the mouth of the shrine, could not tell
whether he were alive or dead; a man with control of his limbs, or a part of the hills, and the clouds, and
the shifting rain and sunlight. He would repeat a Name softly to himself a hundred hundred times, till,
at each repetition, he seemed to move more and more out of his body, sweeping up to the doors of some
tremendous discovery; but, just as the door was opening, his body would drag him back, and, with grief,
he felt he was locked up again in the flesh and bones of Purun Bhagat.
Every morning the filled begging-bowl was laid silently in the crutch of the roots outside the shrine.
Sometimes the priest brought it; sometimes a Ladakhi trader, lodging in the village, and anxious to get
merit, trudged up the path; but, more often, it was the woman who had cooked the meal overnight; and
she would murmur, hardly above her breath. “Speak for me before the gods, Bhagat. Speak for such a
one, the wife of so-and-so!” Now and then some bold child would be allowed the honour, and Purun
Bhagat would hear him drop the bowl and run as fast as his little legs could carry him, but the Bhagat
never came down to the village. It was laid out like a map at his feet. He could see the evening gatherings,
held on the circle of the threshing-floors, because that was the only level ground; could see the wonderful
unnamed green of the young rice, the indigo blues of the Indian corn, the dock-like patches of
buckwheat, and, in its season, the red bloom of the amaranth, whose tiny seeds, being neither grain nor
pulse, make a food that can be lawfully eaten by Hindus in time of fasts.
When the year turned, the roofs of the huts were all little squares of purest gold, for it was on the roofs
that they laid out their cobs of the corn to dry. Hiving and harvest, rice-sowing and husking, passed
before his eyes, all embroidered down there on the many-sided plots of fields, and he thought of them
all, and wondered what they all led to at the long last.
Even in populated India a man cannot a day sit still before the wild things run over him as though he
were a rock; and in that wilderness very soon the wild things, who knew Kali’s Shrine well, came back
to look at the intruder. The langurs, the big grey-whiskered monkeys of the Himalayas, were, naturally,
the first, for they are alive with curiosity; and when they had upset the begging-bowl, and rolled it round
the floor, and tried their teeth on the brass-handled crutch, and made faces at the antelope skin, they
decided that the human being who sat so still was harmless. At evening, they would leap down from the
pines, and beg with their hands for things to eat, and then swing off in graceful curves. They liked the
warmth of the fire, too, and huddled round it till Purun Bhagat had to push them aside to throw on more
fuel; and in the morning, as often as not, he would find a furry ape sharing his blanket. All day long, one
or other of the tribe would sit by his side, staring out at the snows, crooning and looking unspeakably
wise and sorrowful.
After the monkeys came the barasingh, that big deer which is like our red deer, but stronger. He wished
to rub off the velvet of his horns against the cold stones of Kali’s statue, and stamped his feet when he
saw the man at the shrine. But Purun Bhagat never moved, and, little by little, the royal stag edged up
and nuzzled his shoulder. Purun Bhagat slid one cool hand along the hot antlers, and the touch soothed
the fretted beast, who bowed his head, and Purun Bhagat very softly rubbed and ravelled off the velvet.
Afterward, the barasingh brought his doe and fawn--gentle things that mumbled on the holy man’s
blanket--or would come alone at night, his eyes green in the fire-flicker, to take his share of fresh
walnuts. At last, the musk-deer, the shyest and almost the smallest of the deerlets, came, too, her big
rabbity ears erect; even brindled, silent mushick-nabha must needs find out what the light in the shrine
meant, and drop out her moose-like nose into Purun Bhagat’s lap, coming and going with the shadows
of the fire. Purun Bhagat called them all “my brothers,” and his low call of “Bhai! Bhai!” would draw
them from the forest at noon if they were within ear shot. The Himalayan black bear, moody and
suspicious--Sona, who has the V-shaped white mark under his chin--passed that way more than once;
and since the Bhagat showed no fear, Sona showed no anger, but watched him, and came closer, and
begged a share of the caresses, and a dole of bread or wild berries. Often, in the still dawns, when the
Bhagat would climb to the very crest of the pass to watch the red day walking along the peaks of the
snows, he would find Sona shuffling and grunting at his heels, thrusting, a curious fore-paw under fallen
trunks, and bringing it away with a whoof of impatience; or his early steps would wake Sona where he
lay curled up, and the great brute, rising erect, would think to fight, till he heard the Bhagat’s voice and
knew his best friend.
Nearly all hermits and holy men who live apart from the big cities have the reputation of being able to
work miracles with the wild things, but all the miracle lies in keeping still, in never making a hasty
movement, and, for a long time, at least, in never looking directly at a visitor. The villagers saw the
outline of the barasingh stalking like a shadow through the dark forest behind the shrine; saw the minaul,
the Himalayan pheasant, blazing in her best colours before Kali’s statue; and the langurs on their
haunches, inside, playing with the walnut shells. Some of the children, too, had heard Sona singing to
himself, bear-fashion, behind the fallen rocks, and the Bhagat’s reputation as miracle-worker stood firm.
Yet nothing was farther from his mind than miracles. He believed that all things were one big Miracle,
and when a man knows that much he knows something to go upon. He knew for a certainty that there
was nothing great and nothing little in this world: and day and night he strove to think out his way into
the heart of things, back to the place whence his soul had come.
So thinking, his untrimmed hair fell down about his shoulders, the stone slab at the side of the antelope
skin was dented into a little hole by the foot of his brass-handled crutch, and the place between the tree-
trunks, where the begging-bowl rested day after day, sunk and wore into a hollow almost as smooth as
the brown shell itself; and each beast knew his exact place at the fire. The fields changed their colours
with the seasons; the threshing-floors filled and emptied, and filled again and again; and again and again,
when winter came, the langurs frisked among the branches feathered with light snow, till the mother-
monkeys brought their sad-eyed little babies up from the warmer valleys with the spring. There were
few changes in the village. The priest was older, and many of the little children who used to come with
the begging-dish sent their own children now; and when you asked of the villagers how long their holy
man had lived in Kali’s Shrine at the head of the pass, they answered, “Always.”
Then came such summer rains as had not been known in the Hills for many seasons. Through three good
months the valley was wrapped in cloud and soaking mist--steady, unrelenting downfall, breaking off
into thunder-shower after thunder-shower. Kali’s Shrine stood above the clouds, for the most part, and
there was a whole month in which the Bhagat never caught a glimpse of his village. It was packed away
under a white floor of cloud that swayed and shifted and rolled on itself and bulged upward, but never
broke from its piers--the streaming flanks of the valley.
All that time he heard nothing but the sound of a million little waters, overhead from the trees, and
underfoot along the ground, soaking through the pine-needles, dripping from the tongues of draggled
fern, and spouting in newly-torn muddy channels down the slopes. Then the sun came out, and drew
forth the good incense of the deodars and the rhododendrons, and that far-off, clean smell which the Hill
people call “the smell of the snows.” The hot sunshine lasted for a week, and then the rains gathered
together for their last downpour, and the water fell in sheets that flayed off the skin of the ground and
leaped back in mud. Purun Bhagat heaped his fire high that night, for he was sure his brothers would
need warmth; but never a beast came to the shrine, though he called and called till he dropped asleep,
wondering what had happened in the woods.
It was in the black heart of the night, the rain drumming like a thousand drums, that he was roused by a
plucking at his blanket, and, stretching out, felt the little hand of a langur. “It is better here than in the
trees,” he said sleepily, loosening a fold of blanket; “take it and be warm.” The monkey caught his hand
and pulled hard. “Is it food, then?” said Purun Bhagat. “Wait awhile, and I will prepare some.” As he
kneeled to throw fuel on the fire the langur ran to the door of the shrine, crooned and ran back again,
plucking at the man’s knee.
“What is it? What is thy trouble, Brother?” said Purun Bhagat, for the langur’s eyes were full of things
that he could not tell. “Unless one of thy caste be in a trap--and none set traps here--I will not go into
that weather. Look, Brother, even the barasingh comes for shelter!”
The deer’s antlers clashed as he strode into the shrine, clashed against the grinning statue of Kali. He
lowered them in Purun Bhagat’s direction and stamped uneasily, hissing through his half-shut nostrils.
“Hai! Hai! Hai!” said the Bhagat, snapping his fingers, “Is this payment for a night’s lodging?” But the
deer pushed him toward the door, and as he did so Purun Bhagat heard the sound of something opening
with a sigh, and saw two slabs of the floor draw away from each other, while the sticky earth below
smacked its lips.
“Now I see,” said Purun Bhagat. “No blame to my brothers that they did not sit by the fire to-night. The
mountain is falling. And yet-- why should I go?” His eye fell on the empty begging-bowl, and his face
changed. “They have given me good food daily since--since I came, and, if I am not swift, tomorrow
there will not be one mouth in the valley. Indeed, I must go and warn them below. Back there, Brother!
Let me get to the fire.”
The barasingh backed unwillingly as Purun Bhagat drove a pine torch deep into the flame, twirling it
till it was well lit. “Ah! ye came to warn me,” he said, rising. “Better than that we shall do; better than
that. Out, now, and lend me thy neck, Brother, for I have but two feet.”
He clutched the bristling withers of the barasingh with his right hand, held the torch away with his left,
and stepped out of the shrine into the desperate night. There was no breath of wind, but the rain nearly
drowned the flare as the great deer hurried down the slope, sliding on his haunches. As soon as they
were clear of the forest more of the Bhagat’s brothers joined them. He heard, though he could not see,
the langurs pressing about him, and behind them the uhh! uhh! of Sona. The rain matted his long white
hair into ropes; the water splashed beneath his bare feet, and his yellow robe clung to his frail old body,
but he stepped down steadily, leaning against the barasingh. He was no longer a holy man, but Sir Purun
Dass, K.C.I.E., Prime Minister of no small State, a man accustomed to command, going out to save life.
Down the steep, plashy path they poured all together, the Bhagat and his brothers, down and down till
the deer’s feet clicked and stumbled on the wall of a threshing-floor, and he snorted because he smelt
Man. Now they were at the head of the one crooked village street, and the Bhagat beat with his crutch
on the barred windows of the blacksmith’s house, as his torch blazed up in the shelter of the eaves. “Up
and out!” cried Purun Bhagat; and he did not know his own voice, for it was years since he had spoken
aloud to a man. “The hill falls! The hill is falling! Up and out, oh, you within!”
“It is our Bhagat,” said the blacksmith’s wife. “He stands among his beasts. Gather the little ones and
give the call.”
It ran from house to house, while the beasts, cramped in the narrow way, surged and huddled round the
Bhagat, and Sona puffed impatiently.
The people hurried into the street--they were no more than seventy souls all told--and in the glare of the
torches they saw their Bhagat holding back the terrified barasingh, while the monkeys plucked piteously
at his skirts, and Sona sat on his haunches and roared.
“Across the valley and up the next hill!” shouted Purun Bhagat. “Leave none behind! We follow!”
Then the people ran as only Hill folk can run, for they knew that in a landslip you must climb for the
highest ground across the valley. They fled, splashing through the little river at the bottom, and panted
up the terrac
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